The soul in silence : reflections on solitude, trauma, wounding and healing

All the beautiful responses to my recent post/poem Trust in Silence have really got me thinking today of how important silence is to being able to be with and connected to depths of our soul.  When we are struggling or suffering often we can be abused by being told we need to ‘get out of our own heads’, “get off our pity pot!’, (yes readers I have heard this one many times in 12 step meetings) or that we are ‘isolating’ and at times there can be some truth to that, sometimes when we need the loving touch or support of others or look for the gifts or message in a painful experience,  but in world that find it hard to stomach or fathom certain truths, is it any wonder we learn to turn more and more towards the silence if we can, deep in that silence, find an inner source of soothing, calm and healing?

I know for myself the healing to be found in the warm of the sun, in sitting in a shady spot with doors open, Jasper at my feet just feeling the sense of connection with the moment that is awesome, magical, healing and mysterious and beyond words to fully describe (though I make stumbling attempts in poems).  Then there are the times when the silence is more like a deep dark indigo ocean that almost squashes me, I feel myself subsumed or I feel the cresting of a wave of anger or grief or sorrow that wants to rise up and sweep through me, possibly even sweep away some debris from inside, memories or feelings I buried long ago, and if I just allow myself to surrender than I can expand rather than contract in response to that and feel the beauty of having touched base with my soul.

And lets face it, for many of us who have endured depths of loss and trauma others do not, have not and could never know the depths of we are not going to find that recognition or acceptance and allowing of our process from most people and my personal feeling is that therapists also don’t always know the territory themselves.  I was told by astrologer Melanie Reinhardt 13 years ago after my last major accident which was a repeat of my near death one at age 17 that most therapists would not be able to fully understand the deeper spiritual dimensions of the wound of nearly losing my life as well as all the deeply Plutonian experiences that followed over the next 30 or so years for me.  She directed me towards the work of Buddhist Nun Pema Chodron and said a soulful meditative practice would be the best therapy for me.  Sadly I got into another relationship two years later with someone who saw my need for solitude as pathological.  According to him I had agrophobia!!!!  Anyway don’t really want to go back into the relationship today, it was a learning curve for me and I got some good things out of it and deeper understanding due to all the pain we both acted out on each other.

Lately I am learning to accept and validate more my need for soulful solitude.  It is where I create from.   It is where my deepest healing happens.  I don’t feel that level of connection in may relationships in the world, in some I do.  I feel it here because I feel here other trauma survivors and people in recovery are on the same page.  Just connecting with you brings me SO MUCH HEALING.  I was blown away yesterday by the love shown to me on a really tough day, coming out of a painful and challenging week.

I wanted actually to post another Thank You blog too as I was so grateful yesterday and today to open my page and see all the comments and love on here.  As well as responses to other comments of mine where I am trying to support others going through trauma and meeting misunderstanding and woefully inadequate response to their Complex Trauma.  I really see my life purpose to be as a Wounded Healer and it is what Melanie Reinhardt teaches about in her work on Chiron.  Its really only us who have navigated the depths of trauma that fully understand and since all traumas are also different in some ways we wont understand everything as we all have our own unique journeys, but in time I want to set up some kind of site to offer help.   If my journey and suffering and losses and gains can be used to help others that is what really makes me happy, it gives me a peace and feeling of wholeness that really lays so far beyond words.

But as I read this back I am mindful too that the healing for all of us lies both in connections with others, but more paramountly through the healing that comes from connection to our deepest soul.  I feel collectively we are trying too, to heal a deep split from nature and instinct and the divine feminine.   It is hard to articulate this in a post but there is a source of power that to me is Goddess like,  I don’t find the concept of a male God as personally healing in my own journey unless I think of the Frank Lloyd Wright quote in which he says he believes in God but his God is nature.   We are part of this mystery and so is our deepest soul and many of us are on a journey now to connect more to that source both within and without in order to find peace and love after years of separation, fear or trauma.  And to recognise more deeply our essential kinship with all living beings as well as the deep silence.

 

On creativity, poetry and the journey to The Abyss via The Dark Night of the Soul

DNOS.jpg

The following is an excerpt from Linda Schirese Leonards book Witness to the Fire : Creativity and the Veil of Addiction.  

The necessity of facing death and going into a dark night of the soul is, according to Jung, essential to human development.  This dark night may be forced upon one (in the case of addiction or neglect) or it may be freely chosen, as in the case of the creator.  But, in any case, it is the way of the transformation process.  And as is the paradoxical nature of human kind…

When libido leaves the bright upper world, whether from choice, or from inertia, or from fate, it sinks back down into its own depths, into the source from which it originally flowed, and returns to the point of cleavage, the navel where it first entered the body.  The point of cleavage is called the mother, because from her the current of life reached us.  Whenever some great work is to be accomplished, before which a man recoils, doubtful of his strength, his libido streams back to the fountainhead – and this is the dangerous moment when the issue hangs between annihilation and new life.  For if the libido gets stuck in the wonderland of this inner world, then for the upper world man is nothing but a shadow, he is already moribund or at least seriously ill.  But if the libido manages to tear itself loose and force its way up again, something like a miracle happens :  the journey to the underworld was a plunge into the fountain of youth, and the libido, apparently dead, wakes to renewed fruitfulness.

(Carl Jung)

This describes the challenge for the addict (or depressive) who has fallen into The Abyss – to turn that addictive underworld journey into the fruitful return to life and creativity.

The poet takes the turn of transformation in The Abyss by giving expression to what he finds there.  In this respect, poetry, is a call to all of us to embark upon the nightsea journey.  It calls us forth, if we respond, into the dark unknown by jolting us from the ordinary with its unusual and powerful images.  Yet it is also an attempt, while in the depths, to articulate the numinous unknown – a primordial beginning to name that which emerges towards us from the depths.  Poetry invites us to accept momentarily the death of our ordinary ego world so that we may enter into a strange, often terrifying new vision, and from this extraordinary experience to return renewed  .. to a more differentiated level of human existence – one that can accept and dwell more consciously in mystery… revolting against the one-sidedness that has far too long rationalised existence.. (the artist must) confront those opposite unconscious chaotic forces that have too long been repressed.

Only if we confront the chaotic irrational power at the very depths of our being will we be able to transform them into something more meaningful.  ..

The readiness for the creative journey requires giving up possessiveness and expectation, dying to old ways of perceiving, daring to leap into the unknown, and being ready to open and receive what comes, be it something or nothing.

Perhaps everything terrible is its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.  

Rilke, Letter to a Young Poet

 

Psychologically, then, the “Dark Night of the Soul” is due to the double fact of the exhaustion of an old state, and the growth towards a new state of consciousness.  It is a “growing pain” in the organic process of the self’s attainment of the Absolute.  The great mystics, creative geniuses in the realm of character,have known instinctively how to turn these psychic disturbances to spiritual profit. 

Evelyn Underhill

 

In the act of creation, we wrestle with the elements.  To bring the new creation into being requires our standing in the struggle between that which shelters and conceals and self disclosing openness.  The artist is a gentle warrior who must stand between these opposing elements to allow and bring forth the new.

Our true self, our living soul, our essence and the judge

Enthusiasm

We each come into this world as a precious spark of divine spirit, I believe we each come with our own energy imprint and its a big gamble as to how this unique part of us is received.  So much can happen in the interface between our spirit seeking to unfold its uniqueness and what occurs as we look to find a ‘home’ for who we are, a place of  grounding and seeding with particular parents within in a particular family and a particular society.

In the course of growing up all kinds of beliefs get imprinted in us.  We are told certain things, we either meet a mirror or a blank wall or a wall of anger, shame and fear.  Some of us may be fortunate enough to find loving arms that soothe and hold us and comfort us in our distress.  Those of us who aren’t so lucky may meet crossed arms and a sneer or a snub or a look of disgust or be teased or taunted when distressed.  Some of us will be held in mind, some of us will fall out of mind or barely register on a depressed or self involved parent’s radar.  Some of us may meet a void in many ways, an empty place where the inner feelings inside we have not yet found words for turn around and around inside us like shards or splinters. Some of us will hear soothing words, some of us will hear sharp words and all of these words will register on us in our consciousness to one day reappear as voices inside or within, voices we absorbed, voices that advise us, voices that limit us but underneath all of these voices there is one still small voice that speaks to us, not from a sense of contraction, fear, approval seeking and limitation but from purer place of love, openness, expansion and unconditional acceptance and this voice may know a lot about who we really are in essence as opposed to who we may have become in an attempt to fit in or not be hurt again.

Just following my bike accident in June 2005 I had a reading with astrologer Melanie Reinhardt in London.  At the reading she recommended a book to me Soul Without Shame  :  A Guide to Liberating Yourself from the Judge Within by Byron Brown.  Sadly for me I didn’t get the book until last year and it has sat on my bookshelf along with other books “I just haven’t got around to reading yet”.  But lately I have been becoming more and more aware of the voice of the judge within, which can also go by the name of the inner critic or superego that I really felt the need to open the book.  I am so glad I did, as it is not a book by an ‘expert’ but by a writer and spiritual seeker who on his own path has learned a lot about how the judge operates within his own life and consciousness through watching how his own inner judge works.

He also calls attention to the fact that underlying this part of our consciousness is that precious unique energy of our true nature which is less concerned with approval seeking and more concerned with pure self expression.  This is this part of us that is so often stymied or limited or undermined by conditioning factors in our upbringing which make the power of the judges voice become very, very strong, often working to over-ride some of our best creative impulses.

Any of you who are creative surely know this force well.  It is that part of us that wants to tell us all about how inept you are, how far you will fall short, how badly your creative efforts may be received and how you should just learn to play it safe, not dream too large, risk too much or express your heart, opening up to all the other critics out there who will certainly remind you of how what you are trying to express is rubbish.

And most certainly we do need some kind of discriminative sense to decide what we feel may be worthwhile or not, but the point that Brown makes about the judge is that he is never concerned with you expressing your true nature, only that what you express be well received and meet with the expectations and social accepted ideas and ideals of others.  The judge constantly evaluates you to see if you are ‘good enough’ according to others and to imposed standards, it gives you no awareness of the fact that being good enough is not important, what is most important is to be authentically you (and even if you cannot not even judging that!  Gets tough, doesn’t it?

Negative judgements stimulate feelings of rejection, guilt, doubt, shame and self hatred, while positive judgements tend to arouse feelings of self esteem, pride, excitement, self righteousness, and superiority.  Either way, these results are conditional, and you are left dependent on the judge to reject or approve of you…I am encouraging you to go beyond turning rejection into approval and to question the very assumptions underlying self judgement.

Byron Brown

I am sure there are some lucky souls out there who don’t let this side of them permanently stymie them or their creative efforts, in the face of the judge’s criticism they go ahead anyway and with courage take action to move through the wall of fear.  We all have to face the judge, and we all have to do our own battle with this force, but with awareness and attention we can find ways not to be so strangled by it, we can understand how fear of being rejected can underlie certain behaviour and then we can choose to embrace and love our true self or essence anyway, taking the risk to be ourselves and let out from inside of us the individual life juice that so wants to flow forward and builds its containers of valid self expression, acceptance and being.

Often when we get quiet enough we hear all kinds of voices inside.  We can do inner work with these voices and judgements in order to understand which come from our inner essence of soul, expansion, creativity and joy and which come from contraction, fear, separation, false beliefs and old pain.  We can open to all the voices and find which support us, which heal us and which cut us down causing us pain in our body and disconnecting our soul not only from ourselves but from others too.

If Venus is the god of love what part does suffering for our art/love play?

Venus.jpg

Do you know the mythic story of the birth of Venus?  You may have seen the Botticelli painting of Venus that shows her emerging from a shell on the ocean waves but did you know that quiet a violent act gave birth to the so called ‘Goddess of Love’?  You see it was the mythic archetypal God energy of limits, severing and manifestation. Saturn cutting off the genitals of his father the mythic archetypal God energy of boundless freedom and creativity, Uranus and casting that spawn onto the ocean that gave birth to Venus and so on an inner level beauty, connection, harmony and love could be seen to be manifested or born when we allow our creative freedom to be restricted or channelled in some way and allow also that inherent alchemical creative tension of two forces or substances rubbing on each other to give birth to something cherished and valued, valued perhaps because of the sacrifice and labour, effort and suffering required.

Creating anything is not easy, its about reaching a hand down into the vast ocean of creative thought forms, experience, imaging and yes pain and suffering and pulling up  this creative energy, tossing it around internally, chewing on it, breaking it apart, mixing it with metaphoric saliva and digesting it deeply within psychological intestines to (excuse the crude term) shit out piece of lively, messy, pooh!  which is what our creative endeavours can appear to us at times…. “This is just a piece of shit” we say and then we see a like appear and think well maybe not????

I am just allowing myself to go along with a stream of consciousness at the moment.  But the idea I started with came from a dawning realisation with the planet Venus now moving backwards, that has been birthing in me of how struggle is so much part of the creative process of living, shaping our lives into new forms.

Its sad to think that often we can be judged for struggling, for ‘having issues’, for not being yet fully formed but instead a squirming worm trapped in a painful messy chrysallis of becoming.  “Why aren’t you born yet?”, others scream. “Why are you like this and not that?”  “You shouldn’t be so angry/bitter/sad/confused etc!” But the truth is that as humans we need to struggle, at times, we have to wrestle, we have to tussle with those things that want to bind us and trap us and imprison us, with those things that confuses us, hurt us or shamed us.  We need to get down in the mud and dirt with our messy, chaotic, raw emotions and reactions to work our way through to creative solutions or resolutions which are re-imagined solutions that we have had to turn this way and that like a prism of light refracting and reflecting many shades in order to see a light that we could not see before in darkness.

My own experience is in wisdom born through struggle and pain.  Through enduring the dark night of the soul we make creative discoveries.  Some of us are lucky enough to be able in that dark place to finally say an unconditional and creative ‘yes’ to that which has been buried and is trying with all its effort to work its way through a crust of repression into the warm light of day in our conscious awareness, emerging in time as a flower, just a Venus rose from the waves on her sea shell in Botticelli’s painting.

Society may tell you its not okay to be angry, to struggle to question, it wasn’t okay for you to be a victim, to suffer or be negative.  People may try to project a persona from which all anger, struggle, questioning, doubt and pain has been erased, but don’t allow yourself to be fooled for the truly loving creative person within and without is the one who will embrace you in that place, knowing it to be a birthplace.  Its only when we get stuck there that is gets problematic, so keep moving, keep growing, keep expressing until the tender new shoot within you finally emerges and gives birth to a beautiful flower. And during this retrograde Venus time if you find yourself struggling with feelings of low self esteem with deep old feelings of pain in relationships rearing their heads have the courage to work with the pain to find the self – love within it that is waiting to be born in you in this process.